Go West: California to recruit federal climate scientists

It’s not clear who convinced California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Michael Picker to stand like a carnival barker in front of two Washington D.C. Metro stations this week – coincidently outside the offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) – to hawk open environmental jobs in his state.

But whoever it was, the person should get an immediate, substantial raise.

Picker will hand out fliers on Wednesday touting jobs at the CUPC, the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission on Wednesday from 7 am to 9 am in front of  L’Enfant Plaza Metro Stop, adjacent to the DOE. On Thursday, Picker will do the same on Thursday at the Federal Triangle Metro Stop, adjacent to the EPA, also from 7 am to 9 am.

“On climate action, there’s a dark cloud hanging over Washington right now,” Picker said. “If climate scientists and experts want the opportunity to continue doing important work for the good of our planet, my message is simple: Come West: California is hiring.”

Picker’s recruitment efforts come as uncertainty surrounds the future of the battle against Climate Change, and for renewable energy and environmental protection, under the current presidential administration. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has publicly stated his belief that Climate Change is not real, and rumors of draconian cuts to the DOE’s renewable energy office continue to swirl.

Instead, the new administration has signaled a desire to turn back the clock on U.S. energy policy, with rapid reversals on pipeline approvals, opening more federal lands to fossil-fuel extraction and – perhaps most tellingly – removing any reference to renewable energy sources in the president’s “An America First Energy Plan”.

The last appears to be at least a subtle shift away from campaign promises President Donald Trump made last year, when he pledged to support an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy which, at the time included support for renewable energy sources like solar.

As the campaign wore on, however, the tone on renewables did shift. Trump repeatedly suggested (falsely) that solar energy was expensive and didn’t work, and suggested that wind power would “kill all the birds.” It’s these last sentiments that appear reflective of the administration’s current thinking.

In contrast, work on Climate Change and renewable energy continue apace in California. A bill recently introduced into the state’s legislature proposes the state move to a 100% renewable energy standard by 2045, which, if passed, would make it tied with Hawaii for the most aggressive renewable-energy push in the country. It also just proposed to double funding for the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), an important support for customer-sited energy storage.